Model-turned-actress Andie MacDowell still looks like a Hollywood star but these days she seems to see herself more as a mother hen -- and in her latest movie she was cast as exactly that.
The animated family movie “Barnyard,” which opened Friday, is about farm animals who, when the farmer’s back is turned, start walking, talking, eating pizza and partying like humans.
MacDowell, a 48-year-old mother of three children, provided the voice for a hen named Etta, the matriarch of the farm who takes care of the chicks and imparts her wisdom.
In real life, she says, the main focus of her energies is her children aged 11, 17 and 19. The role in “Barnyard” was the perfect job because she recorded the whole thing in a sound studio near her home in South Carolina.
“I went down the road to the studio, went in one of those boxes, put on the headphones, talked to the director over the headphones hooked up by telephone,” she said in an interview, adding that she only met director Steve Oedekerk and the rest of the cast at the movie’s premiere.
“It was great because I’m such a homebody,” MacDowell said. ”It took 20 minutes, I left there with my head spinning.”
MacDowell says she has spent far more time promoting the film than she did working on it. “I’ve talked about myself for three days and I’m really bored with myself,” she said.
In recent years, she has kept a relatively low profile compared to the peak of her fame when she starred in “Groundhog Day” in 1993 and “Four Weddings and a Funeral” in 1994.
MacDowell, who was divorced from her second husband in 2004, said she deliberately focused on her children, raising them outside the pressure-cooker environment of Los Angeles.
With her eldest at college and her 17-year-old daughter about to leave home too, MacDowell expects to have more time and energy for her career in the coming years, particularly when her youngest daughter reaches college age.
“That’s still seven years away, but I’m still young,” she said, which opened the floodgates on a subject she feels strongly about.
“I’m really 48, but I decided to go backward this year because people put way too much emphasis on age,” she said. “I know some 30-year-olds that are older than me.”
MacDowell, who has long been one of the main faces of cosmetics company L’Oreal, complained that women were under pressure to believe that age and beauty were incompatible.
“You’re pre-programmed to believe that a man can have wrinkles and he’s sexy and a woman has wrinkles and she’s old,” she said. She is constantly trying to persuade people that it’s time for a change.
“I do this nonstop. I have to defend myself (and) all women that are 48, and say ’Yes, we’re still beautiful.’ But why do I even have to do that where a man doesn’t?”